GP, 50, gets three life sentences for 90 sexual offences

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A GP who molested women at his surgery was today jailed for at least 15 years after carrying out 90 sex offences against 24 female former patients.

Manish Shah, 50, of Romford, East London, even cited the cases of Angelina Jolie and Jade Goody to justify unnecessary examinations.

He exploited cancer fears to persuade patients aged between 15 and 39  to have unnecessary intimate examinations for his own sexual gratification.

Judge Anne Molyneux QC branded Shah a ‘master of deception’ as she handed him three life sentences with a minimum 15-year term at the Old Bailey today. 

Between May 2009 and June 2013, he assaulted six patients of Mawney Medical Centre, the court was told.

He denied wrongdoing, claiming he had been practising ‘defensive medicine’. But after a trial Shah was found guilty of 25 sexual offences against the six victims.

He had already been convicted of similar offences relating to 18 other women, bringing the total number to 24.

Judge Molyneux QC said Shah had deployed a ‘mixture of flattery and fear’ and used celebrity cases to carry out the sex assaults.

Quoting one of his victims, the judge said: ‘You made up stories which got into heads and caused panic’.

The judge went on: ‘You were a master of deception and you abused your position of power. This was a horrible abuse of trust and caused incalculable harm.

‘The details show a pattern of behaviour over five years. Your behaviour was not only sexual but was driven by your desire to control and on occasions humiliate women.’

Earlier, the youngest victim described being left ‘anxious, fearful and shaking’ at the prospect of visiting the doctor after being abused by Shah.

Speaking in court, the woman who was 15 at the time, said she felt different about men and worried about being seen as a ‘sex object’.

He told young women they were ‘pretty and beautiful’ and remarked how one was ‘tanned down there around the bikini line’.

Others told how he would rest an elbow on their knee and chat away as they lay naked from the waist down with their legs spread.

Summarising other victim impact statements, prosecutor Rosina Cottage QC said the ‘lack of trust’ created by Shah meant many of the women refused to see male doctors and that it had affected their relationships.

In mitigation, Zoe Johnson QC said: ‘Manish Shah will never again be able to practice medicine.

‘The opportunity to offend and the ability to offend only arose because of Manish Shah’s profession.

‘There is not one centile of information to suggest he would offend within the community. Stripped of that profession he is a rather weak man.

‘It goes without saying that all of these women feel grossly abused, humiliated, and that the trust that they placed in Manish Shah has been so dreadfully exploited.

‘He deeply regrets hurting them and cannot say sorry enough.’

The court has heard how Shah picked on patients’ vulnerability, because of their age or family history of cancer.

Shah brought up the news story about Hollywood star Jolie having a preventative mastectomy as he asked a woman if she would like him to examine her breasts.

He also mentioned Goody to another woman, saying an examination was in her best interests, it was claimed.

He would not always wear gloves and left one patient entirely naked on an examination table, jurors heard.

Shah attempted to justify an examination in medical notes by suggesting it was ‘requested’, the court heard.

He flouted NHS guidelines on giving healthy women aged under 25 smear tests and routine breast examinations on women under 50, which were said to cause more harm than good, jurors were told.

Shah, who lived in a £800,000 house in Romford, also breached guidelines on the use of chaperones during intimate examinations.

Speaking outside court, Alison Millar, of Leigh Day, who represents one of the victims, said the sentence reflected ‘the enormity and gravity of his crimes’.

On the effect on her client, the lawyer said: ‘It’s had a huge impact on her. It’s affected her ability to trust male health professionals.’

Ms Millar said Shah was ‘incredibly cruel and callous’ and although the scale of his crimes was ‘unusual’, it was not unique.

She added: ‘These cases do have a knock-on effect on the wider confidence in healthcare professionals. There are questions to be asked (about) how Shah was able to manipulate patients, parents, other members of his practice, other people, for quite so long.

‘It is the end of the road for my client in terms of this criminal investigation. I will be advising her on other forms of redress for her to consider.

‘I think there needs to be reflection now and learning on how this could have gone on for quite so long and whether there were red flags, warning signs, that could be looked into in terms of preventing further cases of this nature in the future.’

Detective Superintendent Tara McGovern, of Scotland Yard, said: ‘A case like this is extremely rare and, when the victim came forward and reported to the local surgery about her concerns, they immediately took action. They contacted the police and he was suspended.’

On why it had taken so long for the victims to get justice, she said: ‘It has been a really complex case. We have spoken to over 130 victims. We have taken dozens of statements. We have sought advice from medical experts and all this has taken time.

‘What we really are thankful for is the victims who have not only demonstrated courage and dignity but have also demonstrated patience in supporting us in bringing this man to trial.

‘We will work with NHS England to review everything that happened in the lead-up and whether or not there were any signs, (whether) we could have acted sooner.’

She added: ‘I would like any victim of sexual assault to come forward and be confident coming forward and speaking to us because we will listen to you, support you and work extremely hard to get you justice.’

Paul Goddard, of the Crown Prosecution Service, said: ‘Manish Shah was a trusted family doctor, but he took advantage of that trust to abuse his female patients and then falsified their medical notes to try to justify intimate medical examinations that should not have taken place.

‘The Crown Prosecution Service wishes to commend those women, who by bravely giving evidence convinced the jury of Dr Shah’s guilt.’

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